Arsenal: Szczesny, Chambers, Mertesacker, Monreal, Gibbs, Flamini, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Alexis, Cazorla, Welbeck
Subs: Martinez, Bellerin, Rosicky, Wilshere, Podolski, Walcott, Sanogo
Arsenal’s miserable week continued as they threw away a second half lead to lose 2-1 at the Liberty Stadium against Swansea City. A scrappy first half gave way to an eventful second as Alexis Sanchez opened the scoring on 65 minutes before Gylfi Sigurdsson’s free-kick and Bafétimbi Gomis’ header turned things around for the hosts with 15 minutes remaining.
The Gunners made only one change to the side that started against Anderlecht in midweek with the injured Mikel Arteta replaced by Mathieu Flamini in the centre of midfield. Jack Wilshere, back from the suspension, knee kick and virus that have kept him out of three consecutive matches, returned to the bench. Theo Walcott was also on the bench looking to build on his 13 minutes of action against Burnley last weekend.
The first real chance of the match fell to Swansea on 10 minutes when a whipped Gylfi Sigurdsson free-kick required Calum Chambers to clear from close range at the back post. The opportunity had come as the result of a foul by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the tricky Jefferson Montero and the Ecuadorian winger continued to be a threat on the left wing firing a low shot at Szczesny’s near post on 21 minutes that our Pole did well to palm away.
Having dominated the opening 8 minutes with long spells of possession Arsenal were forced on to the back foot for much of the next 20 as showers descended at the Liberty Stadium. A series of corners were successfully defended, Wilfried Bony had a penalty claim dismissed by referee Phil Dowd after a slight nudge by Chambers and Szczesny had to block a low drive from Emnes.
At the other end a deflected effort by Ramsey was the best Arsenal offered as they struggled to provide Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck with any service. Cazorla offered very little and although Chamberlain was a threat on the right wing – two fouls from Neil Taylor and Ki Sung-yueng both resulted in bookings – his final ball was often wayward.
The England international did get it right two minutes before the break when his deft return pass to Welbeck freed the striker to shoot from close range. Lukasz Fabianski, playing against his former club for the first time, got down low to parry the ball for a corner. As the momentum swung Arsenal’s way Ramsey flashed a volley just wide and Mertesacker should have done better with his head from a corner.
Arsenal continued the momentum after the break as Sanchez freed Chamberlain who couldn’t quite sort his feet to fire anything more than a tame effort straight at Fabianski.
Moments later Cazorla took a nasty kick from Ashley Williams that saw both players require treatment and the Swansea captain rightly booked. It was the second time he’d sent the Spaniard sprawling. Ex-Gunner Kyle Bartley headed over Sanchez’s resulting free-kick.
Mertesacker and Flamini joined Ramsey in the book, Cazorla forced Fabianski into a decent stop before Arsenal finally broke the deadlock on 64 minutes with a lightning quick counter-attack.
It was all started by the excellent Chamberlain who charged 40-yards down the right, fed Cazorla who in turn slipped Welbeck behind the defence. The striker checked back calmly, picked out partner Sanchez who promptly smacked the ball into the back of the net from six-yards out. It was the Chilean’s twelfth goal of the season. (1-0)
Almost immediately Bony came close to an equaliser as Swansea poured forward in the driving rain. 10 minutes of pressure were duly rewarded when Gylfi Siggurdsson curled a free-kick into the top corner after Gibbs had cynically taken out Modou Barrow 30-yards from goal. The left-back also earned a booking. (1-1)
Proving no lessons had been learnt from midweek, the Gunners promptly conceding a quick-fire second. Montero, skinning Chambers for the umpteenth time, made his way to the byline and dinked a ball into the middle that substitute Bafétimbi Gomis headed low past a stranded Szczesny. (2-1)
Stunned by the turnaround, the Gunners floundered in the final third despite the introduction of Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott for Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini and Yaya Sanogo’s late cameo in place of Calum Chambers. In the end the visitors didn’t really threaten Fabianski’s goal as the home side defended in numbers to the pleading cries of a passionate crowd.
The result leaves the Gunners floundering in sixth place, a title challenge little more than a pipe dream now. We’ve not beaten a side outside the top six this season – a pretty pathetic state of affairs given where we were this time last year.